Friday, August 30, 2019

UPDATE: Victim in Fatal Rio Dell Shooting ID'd

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2019 at 9:02 AM


The man killed last night in a Rio Dell shooting has been identified by officials as Johnny Mack Renfro.

According to a release, video surveillance cameras captured the incident and police are searching for a suspect driving a dark colored car that is believed to have one or more broken or missing windows.
The car believed to belong to the suspect. - CITY OF RIO DELL
  • City of Rio Dell
  • The car believed to belong to the suspect.

The Rio Dell Police Department is investigation the death of a 26-year-old man who was shot after he pulled over on Monument Road around 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The suspect in the case, who was described by witnesses as a black male with dreadlocks, remains at-large.

According to a release, the victim had to pulled to the cub and was walking away from his car when another driver pulled up in a two-door car (believed to be a Honda or maybe Saturn or Acura) and opened fire.

The scene of the shooting. - CITY OF RIO DELL
  • City of Rio Dell
  • The scene of the shooting.

The victim, whose name is being withheld pending notification of family, was shot once in the abdomen. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“The Humboldt County Major Crimes Task Force was requested to assist the Rio Dell Police Department with the investigation,” the city’s release states. “Detectives and evidence technicians from numerous Humboldt County law enforcement agencies congregated in Rio Dell to help canvass the neighborhood and gather evidence.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Rio Dell Police Department at 764‐5642.

Read the full release below:

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Altercation in Humboldt Linked to Apparent Homicide

Posted By on Tue, Aug 27, 2019 at 10:00 AM

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the apparent homicide of an Illinois man whose family last heard from him after he was reportedly in an altercation with a man he’d been traveling with at a campground in Humboldt County.

According to a press release, a car connected to Grant David Whitaker, 25, of Mackinaw, Illinois, who had been reported missing, was found near a Dollar General Store in Clearlake Oaks on Aug. 24.


The next evening, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office "obtained additional information" that the man Whitaker was traveling with, Mavrick William Fisher, 21, Elko, Nevada, had admitted killing Whitaker and were given “detail directions as to where Whitaker’s body could be located.”

After serving a search warrant on a property in Upper Lake, detectives with the Major Crimes Unit located what is believed to be human remains in a remote area on Aug. 26.

Fisher was contacted by Mexican law enforcement officials in Rosarito the same day. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office release states efforts are underway to extradite Fisher to the United States.

Read the full release below:

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Vehicle Thefts in Humboldt Declined Last Year

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2019 at 2:07 PM

Fewer vehicles were stolen in 2018 than the previous year, according to statistics released  by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, with Eureka leading local cities in the highest number of incidents.

There were a total of 569 vehicles reported to county’s law enforcement agencies as stolen last year compared to 721 in 2017, according to the release on information from earlier this year. Of those, 64 were in Arcata, 253 occurred in California Highway Patrol or HCSO jurisdiction, 203 were in Eureka, 0 in Ferndale, 34 in Fortuna and 14 in Rio Dell.

The release notes that “a significant number” were taken using the vehicle’s key, often after being left running unattended or with a spare left in the car.

The HCSO also states that “pre-1999 Honda and Toyota passenger cars, along with Toyota trucks, are being stolen with a similar worn key due to their worn ignition switches.”

Among the latest trends is stealing vehicles via residential burglaries, with thieves entering homes and taking keys that are hanging on racks or lying on tables near the entryway, the HCSO reports.

“Approximately 80 percent of vehicles stolen out of Humboldt County are recovered, however they are usually stripped of anything valuable,” the release states. “Garage door openers are also stolen at the same time making victims more susceptible to future home burglaries.”

Read the full release and a series of tips from the HCSO below:

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

UPDATE: Fatal Motorcycle Crash on State Route 36

Posted By on Tue, Jul 30, 2019 at 3:37 PM

The California Highway Patrol has identified the man found dead this morning after a motorcycle crash on State Route 36 as 25-year-old Steven Forrest Johnson, of Loleta, who had been reported missing to the Rio Dell Police Department on Saturday evening.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal motorcycle crash off State Route 36 near Fox Creek Road that occurred several days ago.

According to a CHP press release, a Caltrans crew found the motorcyclist and his bike off the edge of the road at about 11:45 a.m. today. Emergency medical personnel responded to the scene and determined the rider had been deceased for several days.

The identity of the motorcyclist is being withheld until family can be notified.

The accident remains under investigation and CHP asks anyone with information to call its office at 822-5981.

See the full CHP press release here.
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Monday, July 15, 2019

Man Arrested in 2018 Homicide Investigation

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 12:44 PM

Barnes - EPD
  • EPD
  • Barnes

Jason Barnes, 46 of Eureka, has been booked into the Humboldt County jail on suspicion of killing 58 year-old Bernhard "Ben" Bertain.

On Dec. 22, 2018, a verbal altercation between Barnes and an unnamed female reportedly occurred at the Burre Center in Eureka. An employee working at a nearby business witnessed the altercation and placed herself between Barnes and the female, according to a press release from EPD. Barnes continued to yell at the female and the employee when Bertain, who witnessed the altercation, got out of his parked car and stood next to the employee, trying to convince Barnes to leave the center. The Journal confirmed with Eureka Police Capt. Brian Stevens that Barnes allegedly struck Bertain in the torso with the edge of the skateboard deck before fleeing the scene. According to the press release, Bertain had then refused medical treatment and continued his business at the center and went about his day.

Three days later, Humboldt State University Police received a 911 call from Bertain asking for an ambulance because he was having trouble breathing. Bertain was found at an Arcata storage facility and was sent to Mad River Hospital, from which he was later flown to Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa for a “higher level of care.” Bertain died after arriving at the Napa hospital and an autopsy report later found that Bertain’s death resulted from injuries he suffered during the alleged assault by Barnes.

Bertain's family informed the Napa County Coroner’s Office about the altercation and it then contacted EPD about the investigation. A detective was assigned to the case and on July 5, the detective received the full autopsy report and later found the Burre Center altercation records and was able to determine Barnes as a suspect. Barnes was already in custody at the Humboldt County jail on unrelated charges and is now being held on $1 million bail. 

“This was a tragic situation that resulted from a concerned citizen, Ben Bertain, intervening into a situation to stop what he recognized as a heated verbal alteration that likely was going to turn into a physical assault,” the press release states. “This level of intervention is not uncommon in our community but the outcome this time resulted in the loss of a life. This tragic event should serve as a reminder to the citizens of Humboldt that it is almost always safer to observe and report when you witness a crime or potential crime that is about to occur.”

Read the full EPD press release below:

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

EPD Identifies Juvenile Responsible for Hate Group Fliers, Says no Immediate Threat of Violence

Posted By on Thu, Jul 11, 2019 at 3:35 PM

  • FILE
The Eureka Police Department has issued a press release with some additional information, which can be found here.

The Eureka Police Department has identified a male juvenile believed to be responsible for posting white supremacist recruiting fliers around town, interviewed him and determined there doesn’t appear to be an immediate physical threat to the community.

“He was identified with the assistance of family,” EPD Chief Steve Watson said. “In fact, a family member brought him in here very concerned. The family is very upset to find out what happened and to find out their son was involved in this. They did the right thing, which we very much appreciate.”

Watson said there's no indication that the hate group referenced on the flier has much of a local foothold.

“It does not appear at this stage as if there is some large, active group here in Humboldt County,” Watson said. “He may have acted alone.”

EPD became aware of the fliers yesterday, after a picture of one posted in the Henderson Center area in the morning began circulating on social media. Emblazoned with the image of an assault rifle, the flier read: “White youth! This entire system hates you and wants to see our race dead organize with us and bring an end to it.” The flier included an email address and the name of a hate group tied to a blog spot web page started earlier this month that included a manifesto outlining its ideology, which is militant, anti-establishment, anti-Semitic and overtly racist. Among other things, the site contained references to America being “infested” by minorities, saying the country was “never meant to be a melting pot” but a “shining beacon of true Aryan spirit.”

Watson said EPD identified the juvenile believed to be responsible — who Watson described as being “multi-racial” — last night and interviewed him this morning.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

KHSU Hit by Cyber Attack

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2019 at 12:29 PM

  • Mark McKenna
  • KHSU's studio.
The dead air you’ve been hearing on KHSU is the result of a ransomeware attack that disabled most of the station’s programming systems and storage servers, according to Humboldt State University.

A university spokesperson tells the Journal the university does not yet know whether the cyber attack on the station was the result of a broader fishing effort, a targeted ransom attack or an act of sabotage potentially carried out by someone upset with the university’s decision to eliminate the vast majority of the station’s staff and local programming back in April.

According to a press release, the servers affected by the attack did not house sensitive information and while these kinds of malware attacks often come with a ransom request, the university has not “received a specific payment demand.”

Noting that KHSU is federally licensed, the university press release notes the incident was reported to federal law enforcement and the Federal Communications Commission.

In the meantime, KHSU programming — which has consisted of feeds from affiliates in Sacramento and Chico since the station’s gutting — continues to be interrupted.

“The university hopes to have this resolved as soon as possible as it rebuilds programming and improves the security of KHSU,” the press release states.

See the full press release copied below:

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Dog Killed, 85-Year-Old Man Stabbed in Neck During Assault in McKinleyville

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2019 at 11:41 AM

A man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and animal cruelty Wednesday night in McKinleyville after fatally stabbing a dog and injuring an 85-year-old man during a struggle over the knife.

According to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responding to a call on the 2300 Grace Avenue arrived to find Jonathan Albert Boone outside of the house. The 38 year old reportedly became combative when the deputies tried to take him into custody and continued to struggle after being tasered.

The release states Boone had been in a confrontation with the older man, who received non-life-threatening injuries to the neck and shoulder, earlier in the evening and had left the home.

Boone reportedly returned later and physically assaulted a 39-year-old woman before fatally stabbing the dog.

“According to the male victim, a struggle over the knife ensued, at which time the male victim was injured. Boone then reportedly dropped the knife and fled to the outside of the residence,” the release states.

The relationship between Boone and the two victims was not immediately clear.
Boone was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, elder abuse, robbery, animal cruelty, brandishing a weapon, criminal threats, battery, resisting arrest and violation of Post Release Community Supervision after he was medically cleared.

Read the HCSO release below:

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Friday, June 21, 2019

UPDATE: Sheriff Outfits Some Jail Staff with Body-Worn Cameras

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2019 at 10:44 AM

  • Submitted
In response to a sharp spike in inmate assaults on officers, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is outfitting some correctional officers in the jail with body-worn cameras that it hopes will increase safety.

According to Capt. Duane Christian, the office purchased 14 cameras — seven to be worn on day shifts and seven on night shifts in the jail’s celled housing units. These units generally house the jail’s higher security inmates and have also been the locations of most assaults on officers.

Christian said outfitting correctional officers in the jail’s dormitory-style housing units would have been too costly at this time, noting that the sheriff’s office has committed $90,000 for the purchase and maintenance of the cameras — and legally required storage of the footage — for five years.

While the press release from the sheriff’s office touted the cameras tools to enhance safety in the jail, Christian said they will also be used to collect evidence for potential prosecutions of illegal activity within the jail and also as a means to vet allegations of employee misconduct.

The cameras will not be used in the medical wing  or in the jail’s pat-down room, where officers conduct intake interviews with people being booked into the jail. Christian said this is for two reasons.

“One is HIPAA privacy for the inmates and the other is the hope that if an inmate is experiencing a medical emergency, such as ingesting drugs, they would not be hesitant to tell the nurse out of fear of receiving additional charges,” he wrote in an email to the Journal. “The inmates’ safety is most important in those situations.”

While Sheriff William Honsal has long stated that he hopes to outfit his patrol deputies with body-worn cameras, the costs associated with purchasing another 50 cameras and storing all recorded footage for the legally required two years is high and has thus far proven prohibitive. Based on the cost of the 14 cameras for a portion of the jail’s staff, outfitting the entire patrol division could cost more than $300,000.

Additionally, Honsal said there are some other challenges. A full rollout of body-worn cameras would require that resident deputies and others working in remote areas be able to upload massive amounts of footage to cloud storage, which necessitates high-speed internet connections. The sheriff’s office would also need to dedicate one or two full-time staff positions to editing and redacting video footage to be used in court or released to the public, Honsal said, adding that some other agencies have “gotten themselves in trouble” by deploying body-worn cameras without fully understanding what the costs and staff demands would be.

Nonetheless, Honsal said he sees today’s announcement as the first phase of a tiered implementation he hopes will ultimately see all his deputies wearing cameras.

“It’s a great testing platform,” he said, adding that he hopes to review the program in a year or so with an eye toward planning a full, department-wide deployment of the technology.

And, Honsal added, the cameras in the jail are already having an impact. He says assaults on officers have decreased in the two months or so officers have been using them.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Four Timber Protesters Arrested in Rio Dell

Posted By on Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 1:36 PM

The 24-foot ladder and protester which blocked the entrance to Humboldt Redwood Co. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
  • The 24-foot ladder and protester which blocked the entrance to Humboldt Redwood Co.

Before dawn this morning, four protesters were arrested after they allegedly blocked off the entry gate to Humboldt Redwood Co. property on Monument Road in Rio Dell.

According to a Humboldt County Sheriff's press release, when deputies arrived around 3:45 a.m. they found 15 protestors and a 24-foot ladder attached to the company’s gate and tied to several neighboring trees with one protester, Isabel Osheroff, having climbed to the top.

The logging company began timber harvesting plans along Rainbow Ridge, which lies in the Mattole River watershed west of Redcrest, earlier this month. Protests in this area first began July of 2018, when HRC initiated its logging activities on the ridge. Protesters then said they were trying to protect 1,100 acres of “pristine” forest (which they defined as trees that have not been logged) that mostly consisted of old-growth Douglas fir.

Michael John Gammariello, Brittany Krystal Soohoo and Georgia Hanrahan Doremus were arrested and booked into the Humboldt County jail on suspicion of trespassing, resisting arrest and impeding traffic. Sheriff's deputies, with the help of county public works employees, were able to safely take Osheroff down from the ladder, according to the release. She was also arrested on suspicion of  trespassing.

An earlier press release sent by the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters said protesters began demonstrating June 8, when a tree sitter climbed a centuries-old tree that he or she continues to occupy the tree. “The demonstration this morning is, in part, in solidarity and support of the tree-sitter, who goes by the name Rook,” the release stated.

 From the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

Four arrested for trespassing during logging protest
Deputy attempts to safely remove protester from ladder while in a boom truck
On June 17, 2019, at about 3:42 a.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Monument Road, in the county's jurisdiction of Rio Dell, for the report of protesters blocking an access gate to Humboldt Redwood Company property.

When deputies arrived on scene, they located about 15 protesters, in addition to an approximately 24-foot ladder standing in front of the gate, tethered to nearby trees with a subject at the top.

Three protesters, Michael John Gammariello, 32, Brittany Krystal Soohoo, 25, of Los Angeles, and Georgia Hanrahan Doremus, 32, of Arcata, were taken into custody and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on charges of trespassing, resisting arrest and impeding traffic.

Humboldt County Public Works responded and deployed a boom truck to assist deputies in lowering the ladder in front of the gate. The protester on the ladder, Isabel Xochitl Osheroff, 24, of Berkeley, CA, was safely taken into custody and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on charges of trespassing.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public to obey all laws when protesting a cause. Sheriff’s deputies will continue to respond as needed to Monument Road if further violations of state law occur.

From the Bay Area Coalition of Headwaters: 

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